The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world’s oceans, and covers approximately 20% of the water on the Earth’s surface.  The Indian Ocean is the warmest ocean in the world. With Zanzibar being close to the equator, water temperatures do not vary much – the year average is 27C, with a maximum of 31C and a minimum of 25C.
A diving paradise in East Africa, Zanzibar has a wealth of varied dive sites with different topography and conditions. There are sites with wall diving, continuous reefs, jigsaw-esque coral bommies, and of course there are the historical wrecks in Stone Town. There is something for every skill level of diver – from the first time beginner, to the seasoned advanced level diver.
As is almost always the case with diving, maximum depths vary with location, and the visibility around the island can reach up to 50 metres. The conditions on the west coast tend to be a little more calm – which is ideally suited to beginners, and on the east coast the surface conditions and currents can test more skilled divers.
In terms of marine life around the dive sites of Zanzibar you will always find a myriad of tropical reef fish, blue spotted rays, moray and ribbon eels, and other regularly seen species include octopus, barracuda, green turtles and hawksbill turtles. For some lucky divers they also get to see white-tipped and black-tipped reef sharks, and the whale-shark migration season runs from September until the end of the year.
The diving around Zanzibar is also a fantastic area for macro photographers – various nudibranchs, pipefish and whip gobies can be found by those with a keen eye for the smaller stuff.

MNEMBA

On the east coast of Zanzibar lies the idyllic Mnemba island. This small, privately owned island is surrounded by a large circular reef. In the clear turquoise waters surrounding this marine conservation area, a great diversity of marine life can be found. Bottlenose dolphins often visit the waters around the island and green turtles lay their eggs on its white beaches. From July till September, humpback whales cruise through the waters near Mnemba island. There are many beautiful dive sites around Mnemba and it is a popular area for both scuba diving and snorkeling.

 

Mnemba – Wattabomi

Depth: 6 – 40m
Beautiful landscape dive with patches of hard and soft coral spread out on a sandy slope. Let the current carry you over the large plate corals, that are home to a great diversity of fish species. Looking around, you can often find large schools of fish in the blue. Turtles and larger pelagic fish, like reef sharks, are not an uncommon sight. An amazing dive for both experienced divers and beginners.

Mnemba – Kichwani

Depth: 6 – 40m
A steep slope and wall with mostly soft corals. Drifting slowly along the wall, you will be amazed by the great diversity of fish: clownfish defending their anemone homes, trumpet fish hovering near the coral and odd shaped swimmers like batfish and boxfish can be seen all around. You see many schooling fish and larger predatory fish when looking around in the blue. Both interesting for beginning and experienced divers. If you’re really lucky you may even run into a group of dolphins passing by…

Mnemba – Big Wall

Depth: 14 – 40m
At the Northern edge of Mnemba, there is a long stretch of reef, with a wall dropping off to around 40 meters. There’s a good chance to see big things here, though we can’t promise anything. J The visibility is usually very good. However, due to depth and current, this dive is not for beginners.

MISOLI

Depth: 12 – 40m
At this dive site you find yourself in a big area of typical white Zanzibari sand, with a big island of coral in the middle. The fish life is less abundant here compared to other sites, but many nudibranchs and other small critters can be found here. A challenge for the macro life lover!

HAMDUS OR LEONS WALL

Depth: 12 – 40m
Leons wall is a beautiful unspoiled reef, covered with soft corals and sponges. You can avoid the crowds at this dive site, while you enjoy all kinds of marine life. Look for the conspicuous leaf fish, that can be found all along the wall, in an array of colors – from green to white or purple. Great place for big stuff!

KICHAFI

Depth: 12 – 18m
A long stretch of healthy reef, home to big plate corals with lots of marine life. At this place there is a good chance to see green turtles. There is also a large sandy area close to the site, which makes it a good training ground for courses.

HAJI

Depth: 10 – 18m
A big mountain of plate coral, surrounded by other bommies with soft and hard corals. Lots of schooling fish can be seen at this place, such as yellow snapper. Bottlenose dolphins have been seen many times at this site!!! Or have a closer look at the rocks to find the perfectly camouflaged stonefish and scorpion fish.

MBWANGAWA

Depth: 12 – 18m
A gentle slope with a great diversity of corals. The ‘corner’ of the reef is home to some large plate corals – a truly beautiful sight! Mbwangawa is also one of the places with the best possibility for encountering green turtles. On the sand, have a look out for the wonderful guitarfish.

CORAL GARDEN

Depth: 6 – 12m
This dive site is a relaxed cruise through a field of coral bommies, with a great variety in fish species, nudibranchs and other marine life. Turtles are seen here often!

CHAKATUNI

Depth: 12 – 18m
Located on the northern tip of Zanzibar. A gentle slope with lots of hard coral, home to a diverse array of marine animals. Here you can find sting rays, moray eels and many kinds of fish. Don’t forget to have a look into the blue, you never know what comes cruising by…

SHANE’S REEF

Depth: 12 – 16m
Amazing diversity of macro life, spread over three groups of coral bommies. Leaf fish – often in little groups – are seen here often, as are frogfish and many species of nudibranchs. Shane’s is a very good place for the more rare marine animals, such as the Mauritius scorpion fish and sea horses. Photographers and macro life lovers should not miss this site!

HUNGA

Depth: 12 – 18m
Several pinnacles with mainly hard coral in the open sea. Sometimes strong currents can be found at this site, thus it is best dived at slack tides. As the reef is in open sea, it attracts different life. Schooling fish and big pelagic fish can often be found here – even big shoals of barracudas, tunas, snappers, trevallies… Don’t forget to look down though, as on the bottom you can often see crocodile fish, stingrays, flying gurnards, mantis shrimps and many other surprising animals!

NANKIVELL

Depth: 12 – 18m
Close to Hunga lies Nankivell reef, also a great place for big shoals of fish! Nankivell harbors a large area of coral with lots of fish variety. The squid family is well represented here, with a big chance of seeing cuttlefish, octopus and squid. When you feel lucky, at this place you can sometimes even find reef sharks! Just make sure to go at the right time, as Nankivell can only be dived at specific tides.

KENDWA REEF

Depth: 5 – 10m
Shallow dive site, great place for snorkeling and diving. Both inexperienced and more experienced divers will appreciate the beautiful underwater life at Kendwa reef. It’s also a nursery area for young fish and other marine life.

MWANA WA MWANA

Depth: 2 – 12m
Just North of the island Tumbatu (on the West coast of Zanzibar) lies the small island Mwana wa Mwana, with a distinguishable square white light house on its shores. Underwater you find a field of coral bommies, with an amazing diversity in soft corals. Here, lots of fish and other life take shelter: amazing nudibranchs, ribbon eels, sharp nosed stingrays… Mwana wa Mwana is a good place to encounter green turtles – that can be found drifting on the current or resting on the bottom. A good eye is needed to find the well camouflaged frog fish, who looks like a piece of sponge rather than a fish. But if you find the eyes, you are in for a real treat!

TUMBATU

Depth: 2 – 15m
On the West coast of Zanzibar lies Tumbatu island. The coral landscape at this place, with its walls, overhangs and outcrops, is absolutely stunning. When looking up from deeper waters, you can find yourself speechless as you see the sun illuminating this weird underwater landscape. The rocks are covered with beautiful (mainly soft) corals where many small critters have their home. Try not to be amazed by the colourful nudibranchs! Also keep an eye out for the leaf fish, pretending to be a leaf swaying in the current. Once in a while, look into the blue, as you may find turtles here too.

RENCO BOMMI

Depth: 7 – 14m
Easy dive site, with a massive pinnacle full of coral and a great diversity of fish. Look up and enjoy the view of all the small fish swarming around the coral mountain! Great place to find all kinds of animals: mantis shrimps, leaf fish and octopus are just a few to begin with.

LEVENBANK

Depth: 14 – 40m
For experienced divers only! Coral mountain in the middle of the Pemba channel, rising up from the deep. In the amazingly blue waters of Levenbank you often find strong currents, but combined with great visibility this is a very enjoyable drift dive. Levenbank drops down to about 160m and attracts the real big stuff from the open ocean. Here, you have the chance to encounter several big predatory fish. On the mountain you can find very big honeycomb moral eels and much more surprises waiting for you.